Sunday, February 27, 2011

Race Volunteer

All ready and waiting for the runners.

Today started around 12:45am when I had to get up and get ready to go to Disney World for my volunteer shift in the Information Booth for the Princess Half Marathon.  I decided to get some sleep before my shift and ended up getting about 3 hours sleep, which was a good thing.

Cate and I headed out and arrived at the volunteer tent about 1:45am.  We checked in, received our T shirt and a snack and headed to the bus for the trip to the staging area of the race.  Not knowing what to expect from the snack I brought an apple to eat if I got hungry.  I told myself I shouldn't need to eat at all, because I don't usually eat at that time of night, but its different when you are awake.  I did eat the apple, but brought the snacks home to Andy.
Volunteer T shirt
Snack Bag

 Temperatures were in the 60s and the skies were clear.  Upon arrival we met with our team leader, Lori and the other 6 volunteers working with us, most were Disney cast members.  We were given the low down on the most asked questions and how to respond.  Having run a few races at Disney, I knew about some details that helped me helped others.  I remember walking into the staging area for my first Disney race and being confused about where to go and where things were.  It felt great to be able to help others and answer their questions, so they would not stress about the details and could have a good time!

The first runners arrived just after 3am and the place quickly filled up.  I was stationed in the staging area  between the entrance and the family reunion tents.  The time went by quickly as there were many people to help.  Most people wanted to know where the bathrooms are, how to get on the monorail, how to view the start of the race, where to meet your runner, etc...We fielded any questions, handed out safety pins, and took photos for runners and spectators.  There were so many wonderful costumes with a lot of tutus and crowns. I saw a few people I knew and looked for others, but it was very crowded. It  really was fun, race excitement and girl power were in the air!

Although there were a few race stragglers most were off to the start line by 5:15am. We watched the start of the race on the jumbo-tron screen and soon after the place cleared out.  The last hour of our shift wasn't very busy and at 7am we were relieved by the next crew and had just enough time to get to the finish line to see the leader cross at around 1:21.  Exhaustion set in and we were ready to head home. We  hopped on a bus back to the volunteer tent at Wide World of Sports, checked out and received a one day, one park ticket!

Andy had a breakfast of eggs, hash browns and bacon waiting for us at home and after gobbling that up it was nap time!  The rest of the day was spent reading and catching up on Oprah on the DVR. I ventured out only once to get some frozen yogurt that was the perfect ending to a super day.  I chose a chocolate peanut butter yogurt mix with peanut butter sauce, reeses pieces and reeses puff cereal on top.
My name is Kelley and I have a problem with peanut butter.

 I will definitely volunteer again.  It was a great experience!

Have you ever volunteered for a sporting event?
What's your favorite frozen yogurt combination?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Two for Tuesday

 My two things for Tuesday....

1.  The Disney Princess Half Marathon is this Sunday and I will be there, not as a runner, but as a volunteer.  Cate and I  will be working at the information booth located by the family reunion tents from 2:00am-7:00am.  We will be wearing Mickey Sorcerer hats and orange aprons with "Ask Me" on the front, doing our best to answer all those questions people have. This past weekend we attended a training session for volunteers who are Team Leaders or on the Information Team.  It was really very interesting.  There is so much work that goes into hosting a race of this size.The fact that Disney runs are so well organized is due to their attention to detail. Having been a participant in many events, it was neat to see how it all works. The field of runners is 17,000. There will be about 1600 volunteers there that day, behind the scenes, coordinating everything so that each runner has a "magical" experience.  Most of the Team Leader have been volunteering at Disney for years.  They will receive a one day park hopper ticker for their efforts.  I am not a leader, so I will get a one day, one park ticket.  Very exciting!
If you will be at the race, I would love to meet you.  My twitter handle is @momentsinalife.  Good Luck to all the runners!

2.  I have a new favorite snack - Clif Bar Crunch! It is a crunchy granola bar with a light textured crunch, not too thick or too thin.  I do like food that is good for me, but I want it to taste good too. The peanut butter flavor is excellent and is pumped up with bursts of peanut butter chips!  It comes in four flavors: Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Honey Oat and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut. I like the bar and I like the way the company does business.  It does not  use artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or ingredients sourced  from genetically-modified organisms. It also donates one percent of its net sales to 1% for the Planet, an organization committed to creating a healthy planet.
Each 2 bar pack is 5 Weight Watcher points plus.

The opinions I am sharing are my own and I have not been paid for my comments.  I like to share good food I have found so others can enjoy it too.

 What do you think? Should  I go to sleep before my 2:00am volunteer shift or just stay up until it's time to go?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Vegetable Medley

We eat a lot of chicken in our house and are always looking for ways to mix it up.  We put all the flavors we liked into one dish: chicken, spinach and cheese! This is one of those meals that is filling and full of good for you foods.  

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Vegetable Medley
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
4 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded (use pepper-jack if you like more spice)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt
granulated garlic
1 cup yellow squash, chopped
1 cup zucchini, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced and seeded
1 1/2 cups succotash (1/2 of 16 oz frozen bag)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

 Cut a deep, 2 inch wide pocket in the thickest part of each chicken breast. Stuff with cheese and spinach.  Brush chicken with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and granulated garlic.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in frying pan over medium heat.  Cook chicken until browned and the thickest part of the breast is 155 degrees, about 5-7 minutes per side.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in frying pan over high heat.  Add succotash, jalapeno pepper, zucchini and squash with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium. Cook until lima beans are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and cook 2 more minutes.  

Serves 4

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weekend Wanderings

I spent the past weekend in South Carolina with my three children. My oldest, Cate went with me to visit the other two at college.  Our first stop was Charleston where Caroline is a senior at the College of Charleston. I too went to college there, so it is always fun to go back.

Potato, cheddar, broccoli soup and a
chicken salad sandwich
Charleston is a great city to visit with plenty of history, shopping and my favorite, dining!  Caroline scoped out a new place for us to eat along with some old favorites.

Here's a recap of our wanderings:  Dinner was at Five Loaves, within walking distance from downtown. I had been driving all day and did not stop to eat so I was starving by the time I got into town.  The soup and sandwich were superb!

 Although quite full, I could not pass up a chance to get a cupcake from Cupcake on King Street. Over the past four years this place has grown into quite a hotspot!  We ordered a chocolate peanut butter, tuxedo and lemon cupcake to go.

In the morning we hit Bagel Nation for a fresh bagel before hitting the road to travel to Columbia, SC to see child number 3 - Patrick at the University of South Carolina.  He is a freshman and a new transfer to USC. Today was also his birthday.  He showed us his room and the campus before we went to Five Points to  have lunch.

Thanks to Trip Advisor, we knew we wanted to go to Pawley's Front Porch for a burger. Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive Ins and Dives showcased this place on his show. It has some very creative burger  combinations that are named after places in South Carolina.
Both the name and the description drew me to the Fripp Burger.  It is named after Fripp Island, SC, a small coastal resort island just north of Hilton Head Island.  I lived on Fripp for about 10 years with my mom.   
The combination of the fried green tomato, southern salsa and Boursin cheese worked perfectly together! This burger was awesome! Patrick and I shared the burger and the  Grilled Mahi Mahi fish tacos.

We even had dessert, this time an icy burger of ice cream and cookies. The four of us shared this one. 

I will definitely come back to Pawley's Front Porch on my next visit!

Thanks to a great deal I scored on Groupon, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Riverbanks Zoo, walking off our lunch.  At the end of the day, the girls and I returned to Charleston and made a late night run for frozen yogurt.
So happy to see each other!
The weekend ended with a long walk through historic downtown and along the waterfront before getting back in the car for the ride home.   As you can see I ate my way through South Carolina and enjoyed every bite.  It was so much fun for all of us to be together again!  I know these times together are gifts and will not always be possible.  I am blessed that they still like to spend time with their mom.

  Do you have a favorite burger place or burger?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Last Chance Workout

I rejoined WeightWatchers two weeks ago.  I stopped going about a year ago when my husband lost his job, thinking I could keep track myself and it was one way we could cut back expenses.  I'm sure you heard that they've revamped their program, focusing not on calories, but more on the healthy value of food.  Basically it is designed to encourage you to eat more  fruits and vegetables.  One hundred calories of chips does not feed your body the way one hundred calories of strawberries does.  I wanted to learn about the new program and start paying attention to what I was eating.

My weekly mileage has been reduced to about 20 miles a week since the marathon and I need to get an idea of how much I should be eating. I had hoped that I would loose weight while  training for a marathon, but no such luck, it made me quite hungry.  My weigh in day is Saturday morning, but I had a race scheduled this past weekend and needed to move it to Sunday morning instead. Saturday then became my last chance workout before the big weigh in.

I ran the local Lady Track Shack 5K, for ladies only and had a great race!  I set a new PR of 25:35!  I wasn't sure I could beat my old time of 26:10.  I knew I needed to run faster than 8:26 min/miles.  I started out doing well, but tired out about halfway through.  At that point I was hoping to have enough energy to finish strong.  I did slow down throughout the race, and was quite exhausted at the end. Which you can tell by my face after I crossed the finish line.  I made the mistake of not eating enough before the race.  I typically don't eat more than a handful of dried fruit before my morning runs and did the same today but expected a great performance.  Looking back, I think eating a banana that morning, would have been a better idea.  I did not have enough energy and felt a little dizzy during the race. Thank goodness I didn't fall out!  I made up for it after the race with a half banana, strawberries, gatorade and water.  We even stopped for a bagel on the way  home.

Because I am training for a half marathon in April (Iron Girl in Clearwater, FL) I was scheduled to run 8 miles Saturday.  Once I got home, I had to go out and run the last 5 miles.  Andy and I started running together, but he was only running 3 miles, so we parted ways as he headed for home.  The last 2 miles were a killer.  I was wiped and ended up walking some of it.  I was a relief to be done!

Our day of activity was just warming up, as we had planned to get in some biking too.
We loaded up the car and headed out with the promise of lunch at a new favorite spot.

We traveled to the West Orange Trail in Clermont, about 40 minutes away.  The trail is great for biking and we hadn't been there in almost a year.  We headed north on the trail, the other way is very hilly and after all that running, I didn't want to kill myself.

The trail intersects with many roads, although very few are highly traveled.  Of course we slow down at each intersection to see if cars are coming and if  not we don't come to a complete stop.  You know, we want to keep the momentum.  We came to one intersection and were approaching it as a car was too.  I adjusted my speed so I would not have to stop, but would be able to cross after the car passed. My plan would have worked out fine, but this woman, obviously had a control issue because instead of  moving through the intersection, she kept hesitating and finally stopped just before the path to tell us we needed to stop.  I couldn't believe it.  I was so unprepared for this, that I had to quickly yank my clipped shoes out and stop.  I did get my foot out of the pedal, but my shoes slipped on the gravel and I ended up falling right there!!   Fortunately I landed on my butt and did not scrape up my arms or legs.  She was such a jerk.  If she had only kept going like she should have... it would have all worked out.

So what is worse than falling?  Having other people see you fall of course!  At the time I didn't know how many people saw me until after it happened when the driver of another car asked me if I was all right as did walkers on the trail. That was no nice of them and it warmed my heart :) after that fiasco. Yay for nice people!

We rode out for about 10 miles and then turned around to head back.  With 7 miles left to go, the clouds broke open and rain poured on us. We were wet and cold when we finally returned to the car almost two hours after starting.  We cranked the heat in the car and headed for lunch at Troy's Cuban Cafe.  We discovered this great place for cuban sandwiches as it is right next to the bike shop we go to.  We were still so cold we ate lunch in the car with the heater on.

Tired and full we headed for home - the workout was over!  It really was a fun day and I can't wait to go bike riding on the trail again.  My weigh in on Sunday yielded a small step in the right direction with a .6 weight loss for a total of 2.4 lbs for the two weeks.

Have you ever fallen in front of other people?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cupid Cupcakes

Valentine's Day - you either love it or hate it.  It all depends on how satisfied you are with the relationships you may or may not have. Over the years, I have experienced both emotions on this day. 

This year my sweetheart and I won't be going out to eat, but will make a great dinner together, because that's what we like to do. Luckily, my valentine is good to me every day of the year and doesn't save it all for February 14.  

But whether you have a special someone or not, you can celebrate the day with loved ones.  I always give Valentine treats to my children, nieces and nephews and this year I am making Cupid Cupcakes.  

With fresh strawberries already available in the store both the cake and frosting are strawberry. I got the cupid idea from  Family Fun

Strawberry Cupcakes

Makes 1 dozen
2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.Makes enough for 1 dozen cupcakes

Strawberry Frosting
Makes enough for 1 dozen cupcakes
1/2 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold but firm
Pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

  • Large marshmallow
  • Thin pretzel stick
  • Crisped rice cereal (a handful)
  • Decorators' gel
  • Candy heart (I used Dove dark chocolate)
  1. Frost a cupcake with pink- or peach-tinted frosting.
  2. For wings, use kitchen shears to cut a large marshmallow in half vertically, then snip each half widthwise a few times for a feathery look. Press a thin pretzel stick against the sticky side of each marshmallow half, then stick the pretzels into the cupcake.
  3. Press a handful of crisped rice cereal along the top of the cupcake for Cupid's curly locks, then add a decorators' gel mouth and eyes. Finally, set a candy heart in place and pipe on frosting fingers, if you like.
The cupcakes should be served within a few hours of decorating because depending on the humidity the rice krispies can get soft and the marshmallows may fall off the pretzels.

I didn't make all my cupcakes cupid, but used some to create a strawberry-chocolate flavor. I topped the cupcake with a brownie heart.  This heart was cut free hand so imagine how good it would look with a heart cookie cutter. Yummy!

Valentine's Day - Do you love it or hate it?

To see many more delicious treats check out Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Taco Soup

Recently it's been very wintery almost everywhere, even in Florida.  We don't get the white stuff, but we do get some chilly temperatures.  On cold days, nothing taste better than a bowl of soup, especially a chunky soup. This soup can be used in a taco salad, rice bowl or on nachos.  You can even dress it up with fresh cilantro, guacamole, sour cream or cheese.

Taco Soup is a recipe we have been making for years and is one the whole family likes, it also low in calories.  For those of you on Weight Watchers 1 cup = 4 points plus

Taco Soup
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 can(15 oz) pinto beans
1 can (16 oz) chili beans (I use Bush's)
1 can (8.5 oz) corn
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (10 oz)  Rotel tomatoes
1 package (1 oz) Old El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix
1 package (1 oz) Original Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Dry Mix

Brown beef and onion in large pan.  Drain off any grease.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 hour.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Optional: garnish with cilantro, avocado, sour cream,  or cheddar cheese.

Makes 10 - 1 cup servings

Are you tired of the weather where you live?